Micro 4/3 and the Olympus OM-D EM-1

I’ve been a photographer since high school. I’ve usually been a hobbyist, occasionally making some money, rarely making the bulk of my income from photography. I started with a Minolta STSi, eventually working up to a Nikon F5 before I made my move to digital with a D200. When that started to gather dust, I moved on to a few point-and-shoots, experimenting with not having a SLR; leaning on my phone for day-to-day shots, and a small camera when I thought I’d use it. In practice, that marked the period of my life where I took the absolute fewest pictures. That was a bummer.

I’ve been curious about the new (relatively speaking) compact mirrorless camera systems. I researched the two main systems, APS-C versus Micro Four Thirds (MFT). The more I read, the clearer it became that MFT is winning the battle despite the documented advantages of APS-C’s larger sensor size[1]. In my research, there were more lens options available for MFT than APS-C, which I took as an an indicator the platform’s momentum. Hell, the Wirecutter has a writeup of the MFT lenses you should investigate for your new camera, but such an article doesn’t exist for APS-C. I ordered an Olympus OM-D EM–1. Plus, the camera is gorgeous in silver, which certainly didn’t hurt.

I ordered two lenses with the camera: an Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/2.8, and an Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8[2] - 34mm and 90mm DSLR/35mm equivalent focal lengths, respectively.

On an overcast day, the 45mm didn't have any trouble snapping to focus, and freezing Tex and his favorite ball. 

On an overcast day, the 45mm didn't have any trouble snapping to focus, and freezing Tex and his favorite ball. 

Olympus’ autofocus is fast and accurate. Its face detection is helpful, in that it tries to intelligently focus on faces in the frame as best as it can, and it usually does a good job choosing the faces that are important based on the focal plane. I’ve been really impressed with the speed of the system, but I wonder how much of that is just the progression of technology overall since I bought my D200 in 2003.

Despite the lower f-stop, I’ve found that the 17mm is almost always the one I leave on the body. Maybe once the boy starts running more than fifteen feet away, I’ll use the 45mm more frequently. It’s a good all-around lens. It’s not super fast, or super sharp, but it also sat at a price-point where I don’t get worried about it always being on my camera. On the other hand, there have been a couple times I wished I had sprung for the $150 more expensive f/1.8 version of the lens. I might, yet.

Either way, once again having a camera I’m confident in and with means I’ve taken a ton of pictures. Mostly of my son, but that gives me something else to work on: expanding the subjects and events I’m comfortable shooting.

  1. See also. See also.  ↩

  2. I’ve linked to the intenational SKU, which is $150 less expensive, but carries no warranty. The Olympus-warrantied SKU is here, if you prefer. I couldn’t find an international SKU for the 17mm. I should note that I actually got a pretty good deal on the warrantied SKU, so I bought that one.  ↩